Stomach ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. Stomach ulcers are also known as peptic ulcers, gastric ulcers, or duodenal ulcers.
Stomach ulcers develop when stomach acid irritates the lining of the stomach.
Causes of ulcers include:
- an infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria
- long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin
Some people believe stress or spicy food can cause an ulcer. These do not cause ulcers, but they can make them worse by increasing stomach acid production.
Read about ten evidence-based methods to help relieve the pain from stomach ulcers.
Ten evidence-based remedies for stomach ulcers
If a person has an ulcer, they may feel a burning sensation in their stomach. This burning sensation often:
- lasts a few minutes or several hours
- eases after taking antacids or stopping food intake
- starts in the middle of the night or during meals
- occurs off and on for several weeks
People can relieve these symptoms using the following home remedies:
Probiotics are living organisms that help restore balance to the bacteria in the digestive tract. As well as helping achieve optimal gut health, they can help with treating ulcers.
According to a review from 2014, probiotics cannot kill H. pylori bacteria. However, they may reduce the amount of bacteria present, speed up the healing process, and improve some symptoms.
When taken alongside other treatments, probiotics may help eradicate harmful bacteria.
People can find probiotics in the following sources:
- fermented foods
- probiotic supplements
Some foods have probiotics in them. But, consider taking supplements as they have higher concentrations of probiotics per serving.
Many people think that ginger has gastroprotective effects. Some people use it to treat stomach and digestive conditions, such as constipation, bloating, and gastritis.
A review from 2013 suggests that ginger can help with gastric ulcers caused by H. pylori bacteria. Eating ginger may also prevent ulcers caused by NSAIDs.
However, many of these results come from animal studies, so it is not clear whether the effects would be similar in humans.
Honey is a popular, natural sweetener used across the United States. People who consume honey regularly can enjoy a range of health benefits.
A review from 2016 states that Manuka honey has antimicrobial effects against H. pylori. It suggests that honey could be useful for treating stomach ulcers.
People also use honey to speed up wound healing, including skin ulcers, burns, and wounds.
Turmeric is a popular yellow spice frequently used in India and other parts of southern Asia. Like chili peppers, turmeric contains a compound called curcumin. Researchers are beginning to study curcumin in regards to its health benefits.
A 2013 review concluded that curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities that may help prevent stomach ulcers. However, there are a limited number of studies on humans.
There needs to be more research to examine how effective turmeric is in treating ulcers. Still, initial results appear to be positive. Scientists hope that turmeric can help relieve ulcer symptoms and treat the sores.
Medical treatments for stomach ulcers will vary based on what is causing the ulcer.
If taking NSAIDs caused the ulcer, a doctor will likely advise the person to stop or reduce their use of those drugs. People can switch to another medication for pain.
A doctor may prescribe proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce stomach acid and protect the lining of the stomach. They cannot kill bacteria, but they can help fight an H. pylori infection. Some examples include Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.
A doctor may also prescribe histamine receptor blockers. These prevent the stomach from producing too much acid. Some examples include Zantac and Pepcid.
Also, a doctor may prescribe a protectant called sucralfate (Carafate). This helps prevent further damage to the area around the ulcer.
When an H. pylori infection caused the ulcer, a doctor may also prescribe antibiotics. Since H. pylori can be hard to kill, a person must take all doses exactly as prescribed even after symptoms go away.
Often, a doctor will combine several medications and therapies when treating an ulcer. Combination therapies help address pain, prevent further damage, and cure any infection.
A person may be able to find relief with some home remedies. But, people should see their doctor to find out the cause and receive medical treatment.
A doctor can create a treatment plan to help treat the ulcer. At-home remedies may help prevent ulcers developing in the future and naturally help ease symptoms.
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